Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.

The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

John Furlong says RCMP letter clears him in one abuse case

Former Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics CEO John Furlong wants to face the reporter in court who accused him of sexual and physical abuse, but he has still not agreed to defamation trial dates against freelance writer Laura Robinson.

On Dec. 12, Furlong released a Dec. 5 letter from Prince George RCMP Cpl. Quinton Mackie that said "based on the facts uncovered, the allegations made by Beverly Abraham are not supported." Therefore, the Mounties would not recommend charges against Furlong.

In a prepared statement on his website, Furlong said he asked his lawyer, John Hunter, to seek B.C. Supreme Court trial dates to contest Abraham's July civil claim. She is one of three people who say they were abused by Furlong in 1969 and 1970 at a Burns Lake, B.C. Catholic elementary school. Furlong made no mention of Burns Lake in his 2011-published memoir, Patriot Hearts.

None of the allegations has been proven in court.

Abraham's lawyer Jason Gratl said his three clients would welcome a trial against Furlong, but it is "a little premature to set dates." Examination for discovery is scheduled for February in Vancouver and Smithers, B.C.

For judicial economy and fairness, Gratl wants their complaints against Furlong heard together.

The letter from Mackie was on RCMP letterhead, unlike his similarly worded April 12 email to Furlong's lawyer Marvin Storrow.

Between Oct. 28 to Nov. 3, Furlong released the April 12 email and also announced he would drop his Nov. 27, 2012 filed defamation lawsuit against the Georgia Straight and escalate the defamation lawsuit against Robinson.

Robinson's Sept. 27, 2012-published story under the headline "John Furlong biography omits secret past in Burns Lake" remains on the Georgia Straight website.

On Dec. 10, Robinson unsuccessfully sought a court order for Furlong to pay a $100,000 deposit to the court, in case he loses the trial, whenever it may be. Her lawyer, Bryan Baynham, has accused Furlong of foot-dragging by not booking trial dates.

A 30-day reservation for a 19-day trial to begin Jan. 19, 2015 expires on Dec. 13. It is the responsibility of plaintiff Furlong to approve and pay, but Baynham said that has still not happened.

"We searched (today) and no notice of trial. I haven't heard a thing from Furlong's lawyer," Baynham said. "He apparently wants to conduct everything in the media."

Furlong has not escalated the court action against Robinson, but has instead recently hired Toronto crisis communication and rebranding expert Janice Mandel of Strategic Ingenuity Communications.

"Our message is, we want to go to trial," Robinson said. "I want the field of play in the courtroom where it's supposed to be."

Abraham was one of eight people who swore affidavits, claiming Furlong abused them. She was quoted in Robinson's story, which did not contain allegations of sexual abuse.

In July, Gratl wrote to the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, alleging that the Mounties' investigation of Furlong was haphazard and tainted by prejudice. The RCMP led Vancouver 2010's $900-million security operation and senior officers worked closely with Furlong.

Vancouver journalist Bob Mackin is a frequent contributor to The Tyee. Due to the nature of this story, comments are closed.

Find more in: